Follow the Leader

Understanding What It Means to Be Loyal to Your Pastor

There are a lot of different opinions—some that can be very strong—concerning the matter of “loyalty to the pastor.” One extreme is pastor-worship and the other extreme is no loyalty to the pastor at all. Without a doubt, both of these positions are wrong, yet we are still to find a balance in our loyalty to the pastor. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” The key to following Paul is clear—it was that he was following Christ. I am confident that I am commanded by God to follow my pastor, who also serves as my boss, and to submit myself to his authority.

Many questions arise about what to do if the pastor is not leading in the right way. Should a person ever take an open stand against a pastor if he is not leading the way he thinks he should lead? After all, the Bible does command us to “contend for the faith.” I will answer that question at the end of this article. For now, let’s discuss our loyalty to the pastor in some crucial areas of our ministry as “second men” in the ministry.

Be loyal to your pastor’s vision for the ministry in which you are serving. Do you even know your pastor’s vision for your church? Have you ever taken the time to sit down with your pastor and discuss with him his vision for your church? If you do not know his vision for the church, you are the one at fault!

Listen to what he is preaching about. Let the times when you talk with him be times when you can discern his vision. What are your pastor’s goals for your area of ministry? I serve as a youth pastor. I have filled this position since June of 1994. I love working with our teens. But if I am not careful, I can get the mentality that the youth ministry is “my” ministry. I must keep in mind that I am an extension of my pastor! It is not my ministry, but rather it is pastor’s ministry, and I have an area of oversight in his ministry. With that being said, I must work to always support my pastor’s vision for my areas of oversight in his ministry. I must keep telling myself, I am not the pastor. This is not my ministry. I am a representative of my pastor to the group of people I serve. In my case here at Franklin Road, I have been here longer than Pastor Norris. I could have the mentality of entitlement. However, that would be very unbiblical. I must have my pastor’s vision (heart) for all areas of ministry.

Be loyal to your pastor’s decisions. I am sure it has never happened to you, but there have been a couple of times I have not totally understood all of my pastor’s decisions. (Truthfully, I don’t understand all of my own decisions either!)

I remember on one occasion when Pastor Norris first came to be our pastor that I took him a proof of our “teen quarterly calendar” to impress him with my organization and care for the teens of our church. I remember he kept it for a few days and then got back with me later and said he loved everything about it except one activity that I was planning. We were planning to go white water rafting on the Ocoee River in East Tennessee. Pastor Norris just asked me to not do that particular activity. I remember thinking, “Why?” He offered to me at that point no explanation for his decision, just that he did not want us to do that activity. After I published the calendar, I had teens and youth workers asking me why we were not planning on going white water rafting. I could have easily thrown Pastor Norris “under the bus.” I could have caused a large group in our church to have bad feelings about my new pastor, but I chose to just say, “We are doing something different this year.” I must be willing to submit my will to the leadership of my pastor. Not just in “my” areas of ministry, but in all areas of our ministry.

Are you surrendered to your pastor’s leadership in the Sunday school ministry? How about the bus ministry or the music ministry? What about in the area of your Christian school? What about in the area of standards? Follow your pastor’s leadership in areas of ministry, but also follow his leadership in areas of pay and employee policies. Never be guilty of tearing down your pastor’s authority with ANYONE! It is not sharing prayer requests with fellow employees to talk negatively about your pastor.

Be loyal to your pastor in his preaching. I want to encourage you to support your pastor publically in his preaching. Don’t sleep while he is preaching. By all means, don’t text or do social media while he is preaching. Listen intently and involve yourself in the message deeply. After all, that is what we expect of our teens—we teach them by example. Also support your pastor’s preaching privately. Never be guilty as a Christian of talking about your pastor’s preaching in a negative way—ever! One of the greatest mistakes that young “second men” make is to take any negative things about church home and discuss them with their wives. You will get over it long before your wife is able to get over it! Some things should never be talked about—especially at home. I want to encourage you to support your pastor’s preaching personally as well. What I mean is that you should do your best to live it out in your life. Make it part of you!

Now back to the question of “what if…” If your pastor is in sin or doctrinal error, that must be taken to the deacons immediately. But what if he isn’t? We could spend all day discussing different scenarios. However, let me just sum it up this way: if you are unhappy or unable to serve God and be loyal to your pastor, then leave. When you leave, leave quietly and peaceably—and go far away. Remember there are lives in that church that will be forever affected by how you handle that situation of loyalty to your pastor. There have been way too many times that a second man has destroyed a ministry because he did not agree with something about the leadership of the pastor. You are not the pastor! God has placed your pastor in that position, not you! Just follow your pastor until God moves you!

In conclusion, let me just say that loyalty reproduces itself! It is so encouraging to see how God blesses loyalty and rewards you for it.

“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”— Philippians 2:19–23

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